(photo credit: COURTESY OF FAMILY)
The Palestinian terrorist convicted of killing three people, including American Richard Lakin, in an attack in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in October was sentenced to three life sentences plus an additional 60 years at the Jerusalem District Court on Monday.
Balal Abu Gaanam, from Jebel Mukaber, the Arab neighborhood adjoining Armon Hanatziv, was also ordered to compensate the victims’ families with NIS 250,000, to pay those wounded in the attack NIS 150,000, and to pay the driver of the bus he attacked NIS 100,000 for emotional harm.
Abu Gaanam was convicted in mid-June of multiple murder and attempted murder charges for brutally murdering three Jewish men and wounding 10 others on an Egged bus in the capital.
Haim Haviv, 78, Alon Govberg, 51, and Richard Lakin, 76, were killed in the bloody October 13 attack, which made international headlines and rattled the nation.
State Prosecutor Uri Korb said that Gaanam “did not express regret for his actions.”
In its indictment, the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office stated that Gaanam had been a Hamas supporter for several years when his accomplice in the murders, Baha Elian, told him he obtained NIS 20,000 to carry out a terrorist attack against Jews.
The indictment stated that the two were enraged about “break-ins at Al-Aksa [Mosque]” and at “settlers for murdering Palestinian children” – false allegations that have been regularly propagated by radical Islamist groups to incite deadly violence.
Gaanam allegedly agreed to join Elian in the attack, for which the latter purchased a gun and knife.
The two men then concealed their weapons in their pants and traveled together on Gaanam’s motorcycle to the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, which abuts Jabel Mukaber, parking the motorcycle next to a medical center before boarding a No. 78 bus heading to the city center.
After the two determined enough passengers had boarded, the indictment states that Gaanam and Elian made eye contact, and Elian signaled to Gaanam to open fire. Gaanam began shooting the passengers, while Elian stabbed them.
When Gaanam ran out of bullets, he attempted to strangle another passenger, the indictment states. Eventually, security forces arrived, killing Elian and arresting Gaanam, who was wounded.
Haviv and Govberg were killed during the attack, while Lakin, a prominent educator, peace activist and grandfather of eight, who made aliya from Connecticut, died from his wounds two weeks later.
Following his death, one of Lakin’s sons described him as “a kind, gentle loving person whose legacy is acts of kindness.”
In January Elian’s and Gaanam’s homes were respectively demolished and sealed off by security forces.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.